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Florida Weave: supporting tall tomato plants outdoors in Scotland

I’m growing 25 tomato plants in my small urban garden this year, different varieties, and different types. Some of them are going to need a lot of support (indeterminate tomatoes) and some won’t need any support at all (micro tomatoes). Even within the group that will need support, I and going to have to be clever and come up with have different types of support. The tomatoes I grow in the greenhouse are really easy because my greenhouse is designed to offer options for this with a strong structure that strings and wires can be attached to.

It’s a bit different once we go out into the garden and think about the tomatoes growing outdoors in my raised beds though. There’s obviously no standard, in-built support mechanism for them. So we’ve had to get creative.

We decided on our support method based on a few individual factors for us and our garden. We are testing the outdoor tomato-growing options:
we don’t want anything

  1. that will cost to create
  2. will be a pain to store at the end of the year
  3. looks too untidy
  4. is difficult to create

We also wanted

  1. to make it from stuff we already had
  2. to not have to dismantle our hoop frames which are part of our raised beds
  3. something that would stand up to the wind
Kate building a florida weave tomato trellis

There are lots of options that would tick all these boxes. We could have put built a sturdy frame across the bed and lashed bamboo canes to it, one for each plant, then attached the plant to the cane with string or wire. We could have used that same frame and string instead of canes and supported individual plants in the same way. We decided to go with something we’ve never tried before but we think might offer a bit more support and battle the winds a little better, it’s called either a Florida Weave or a Basket Weave.

The frame itself

The frame itself we’ve made uses some 6ft tall bamboo canes that Usually use for making pea and bean supports. We made a box to start with, using cable tied to lash them together at each corner. We’ve also cable-tied them to our existing hoop frames for extra stability and we used eye bolts, screwed into the wooden hoop frames at the bottom which the canes slip through. And of course, they are pushed into the soil too. Super strong.

Because of the length of our raised bed, we’ve gone with three uprights, this means our strings can be nice and short for more strength and generally the whole structure is stronger.

The actual “weave”

Now the Florida weave is actually really simple, you still use string and I’ve used bamboo canes, but it can be stakes, T posts etc. You just want some good, strong upright supports you attach the string to. And here’s the bit that’s different.

The string attaches in horizontal lines, not vertically.

How it works

You create the weave by attaching your string to one of your posts (or for us, our bamboo cane).

Tie it with a couple of good knots to hold it secure and then you are going to wind it along the row of tomato plants going in front of the first plant and then behind the next, repeat with in front of the next plant and then behind the following.

Keep doing this until you reach your next support cane or stake where you wrap it around that support a few times to anchor it before carrying on until the next support stake. Once you reach the end of that row, again wrap the string around a few times to anchor it and then go back along the row.

This time, however, we are taking the string in the opposite direction around the plants. So if you went in front of a plant last time, this time you go behind. By the end, you should have two pieces of string travelling along your row of tomato plants, one in front of and one behind each plant. This is your first row of Florida weave, you can tell now why it’s called a weave.

The beauty of this method is that you just add a new horizontal row of support each time it’s needed as your plants grow. Effectively your support grows with your plants.

So far I’m quite happy. It was really easy to construct and didn’t take much time at all and it definitely looks a lot better than a bed full of bamboo canes.

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